Narcissa was a very happy find for me. Looking for farm-to-table restaurants is not exactly the easiest task. Thankfully and despite the lack of several choices, I am thrilled to have discovered Narcissa.
Walking in, I thought I had come across a 21st century Garden of Eden. Its design is very modern and sleek. Wood panels, white marble countertops, colorful pieces, and abundant flowers can be found inside. There is a beautiful lush garden that highlights the restaurant’s farm-to-table take. All of this is made more idyllic by ubiquitous bright light. It is fresh and green, yet manicured and neat.
Since it was brunch and I was in such a nature-inspired restaurant, I wanted to order something cool and different. Yet, I ordered a burger. This can seem to be a rather basic plate, but with the right ingredients and in the right place, it can be magnificent.
And it was. It was accompanied by guacamole, Manchego cheese, and a spicy orange sauce. Need I say anything else? It was pure perfection. A mixture of very diverse flavors blended in my mouth each time I took a bite from this moist dish. When the guacamole fell off the other end of the burger, I grabbed a knife and rubbed it back unto the burger. I think that pretty much sums it up.
I would return any day to this inviting, cozy, hip, and elegant locale!
Hours: 12:00 PM to 11:30 PM (Mon-Thurs and Sunday), 12:00 PM to 11:30 PM (Fri-Sat)
I love healthy food, but I also love frozen yogurt. The compromise? Get a green smoothie from a frozen yogurt shop. I had bookmarked 16 Handles since the beginning of the semester for its raving reviews on Yelp. It did not disappoint.
Located on Amsterdam Avenue between 75th and 76th, 16 Handles was extremely easy to locate, especially with its lively music and brightly lit environment. There is a wide range of options for frozen yogurt, with low fat, fat free, gluten free, and vegan options, and fresh fruit amongst other toppings. What caught my eye, however, were their green smoothies.
I ordered an “Oh Kale Yeah!” smoothie made of fresh IQF pineapple, banana, spinach, kale, coconut water, and white grape juice. There are no artificial ingredients or ice. The staff was extremely friendly, inviting me to test out their new frozen yogurt flavors while I waited for my smoothie.
Expecting a more starchy bland smoothie, I was blown away. The smoothie was not extremely heavy, and provided a nice citrus-y freshness. While the banana seemed overpowering at first, it blends extremely well with the spinach and kale, which tone down its flavor. The natural sweetness of the white grape juice balances the acidity from the pineapple, allowing me to enjoy every sip I took. The spinach and kale substantiate the smoothie, making it slightly more filling. This was definitely the best green smoothie I’ve had in a long time, and believe me, I drink a lot of green smoothies! I am addicted! The “Oh Kale Yeah” would be perfect after a workout, or just for a slight healthy boost before shopping at the Sephora nearby.
Green smoothies in a frozen yogurt shop: unexpected, but extremely well-made.
This healthy little gem is located on 9th Ave, between 45th and 46th St. It’s not too far from the Times Square subway station, making it very accessible if you’re shopping nearby. This famous chain also has many other locations, including one on 117 W 72nd St, which is much closer to campus. While the physical store is quite small and has no seating available, they have a wide variety of options.
Need a quick pick-me-up? They have healthy juices and smoothies. Want something more filling? They have nicely portioned açai bowls, vegan lunch options (rolls, burgers, and noodles), and vegan pastries. What is unique about this chain is their “juice farmacy,” which is made up of small drinks with jam-packed nutrients. One such drink is the “lemon lozenge,” a blend of lemons, cayenne, and ginger, to help clear an irritating cold.
I ordered a “Green Guardian” smoothie and a “Jackpot!” açaí bowl, while my friend ordered an “I Heart Watermelon” smoothie, sweetened with agave and an “Almond Butter Bliss” açaí bowl. For smoothies, you have the option of almond milk or hemp milk and you can sweeten them with either agave or dates.
“I Heart Watermelon” Smoothie:blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon.
Overall, the smoothie had a nice balance of sweetness and acidity, and was not too overpowering. The first note of the smoothie had a very strong raspberry taste with a subtle hint of watermelon that was gradually brought out upon further tasting. It was very light compared to the “Green Guardian,” with a more liquid texture (as opposed to starchy), and would be perfect for a post-workout refreshment.
The “Almond Butter Bliss” açaí bowl had an overall extremely nutty flavor that my friend thought was slightly overpowering. The bowl could have used slightly more acidity with the addition of more citrus-y flavors. Interestingly, she tasted a hint of chocolate milk, which could have been caused by the mixture of almond milk and banana.
The açaí bowl was actually more liquid-y than I had expected, and didn’t look too appetizing by looks alone. I was blown away by the taste. The textures in the bowl brought a nice variety and they struck a perfect harmony between the chewy and crispy granola, the tarte fruit, and liquid-y açai. The nutty flavor contrasts the typical sweet and sour açai bowl and provides a nice base note. Kiwi is an unusual fruit to add into açai bowls, but it definitely works here and provides the desired citrus-y acidity. The fruit used in my açaí bowl was really fresh. After eating this açaí bowl, I felt a lot healthier and even refreshed!
At first, I regretted my decision to order this smoothie. It was rather bland compared with the “I Heart Watermelon,” and I wished that I had chosen to sweeten the smoothie with dates or agave. The smoothie was rather starchy and thick. About half way through the smoothie, it was difficult to obtain any more liquid and I had to constantly poke around the cup. The more I drank, however, the more my opinion of this smoothie improved. The almond milk fragrance became more identifiable and there even seemed to be a banana-like taste in the background. Definitely sweeten the smoothie if you order this drink!
Juice Generation has a nice variety of healthy options and I can’t wait to try out the many other options that it offers.
ABC Cocina is Jean-Georges’s Ibero-American take on its famous sister restaurant, ABC Kitchen. It is an airy, hip, and modern place located in the Flatiron District that manages to marvelously mix the city with nature.
The restaurant has a very cozy feel to it, filled with a very young and refreshing crowd of urbanites. Dimly lit by an abundance of widespread lights throughout the restaurant, it has a very natural look. I was glad to notice the silence that permeated the place: not due to a lack of customers but because of spacing arrangements to give customers a very individual experience.
The menu has abundant influences from the Spanish and the Mexican kitchens. There are plenty of tapas options, reminiscent of a Madrid restaurant, from jamón ibérico to octopus. There are also many tacos and corn-heavy plates that show its Mexican influence. All of these plates feature a noticeable twist from the norm with their farm-to-table attributes and healthy ingredients. Fruits, plants, and spices are highlighted throughout the menu as the centerpiece of the site.
I chose to have a more Latin American experience by ordering guacamole, empanadas, and finally flan. They were all wonderfully splendid. The guacamole came with tortillas, a red, mildly spicy sauce, and nutty seeds in it that gave it a fresh taste. The empanadas were absolutely amazing. They were filled with moist mushrooms and accompanied by a green chili sauce. Lastly, the milky flan was incredibly soft; it dissolved in my mouth.
As an avid espresso finder, I have traveled around the city finding my favorite cappuccinos, macchiatos, cortados, and lattes. Each borough has always rewarded me with amazing cups of jittery happiness, but then I’m usually hungry for a snack to go with my cuppa.
But when I look at the glass counter for a sweet treat to pick out, all I usually see are chocolate croissants, sugar covered pound cakes, huge chocolate muffins, and the bigger-than-your-head cookies. As a health-focused consumer of foods, what am I supposed to eat at these places? Am I supposed to stick with the cantaloupe and pineapple filled fruit cups every time?
Chalait in the West Village offers some other options.
I like to study around NYU quite a bit, and one time I popped into a very bright and very minimalist decorated coffee shop called Chalait, and I’m so glad I did. As I walk in I do see the croissants and muffins in a small shelf, but then I look up and see a huge menu of healthy options, as well as some shelves on the side of the store bursting with raw bites, quinoa salads, and chia puddings.
I sighed with happiness, ordered, and sat down waiting for deliciousness to come to me.
Chalait offers different kinds of “toasts”, whether it be avocado, sunrise, or plain Nutella. I ordered the muesli toast with fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, and agave for that morning. I couldn’t even believe that what I was eating had ZERO preservatives, and was made of such pure ingredients. They even spent so much time meticulously plating each dish to keep the dishes looking as beautiful as their latte art.
Aside from their toasts, each of which I tried every time I visited here, Chalait also has many raw snacks, and one of my favorites is the Tangy Pineapple and Cocoa Banana Bites. They are completely raw, vegan, and gluten free, and best of all, guilt-free!
These are just a few of the many delicious and healthy options you can pair with your favorite espresso at Chalait, and I definitely will be returning next week to try something new! While every coffee-shop may not have raw brownie bites and chia puddings, you can always find something guilt-free to go with your coffee. If not, enjoy your well-made cortado and grab a snack from the bodega next door!
This summer I fell in love with a new type of cuisine: clean eating. A day in the life of a college student often includes a morning trip to Ferris (if you wake up that early) for bacon, cereal, and everything with Nutella, then lunch at Chipotle, followed by plenty of JJ’s mozzarella sticks. Now while I loved eating all of this, I was a runner, so my body didn’t quite agree, and I often felt fatigued or not fully satisfied.
That’s when I discovered the beauty of eating clean. Now, eating clean takes many forms: eating vegan, raw foods, vegetarian, gluten-free, and more. It takes a bit of time to find clean eats, but after I started making the change to find them, I couldn’t turn back! (Note: most of my diet is clean dishes, but I do like to indulge sometimes!) It also worked with my runner’s lifestyle, because my workouts improved when I was putting only natural things in my body.
Luckily, around my internship this summer, there were plenty of clean and healthy options that I could choose from, but coming back to campus proved to be a challenge. Where was I going to find my daily juice and date brownies? Will I have to stick with Milano salads and Dig Inn forever?
Enter Sweetgreen. There was a Sweetgreen across from my work this summer, and I would eat there two to three times a week. Their menu mostly consists of salads and “grain bowls”, but they have a few soups and some amazing natural teas and refreshers as well. When I heard that one was opening up at Columbia, I was ecstatic, and I went right on opening day.
I ordered my favorite greens bowl: the Spicy Sabzi bowl with chicken, and treated myself to a raspberry and mint infused water. This bowl was chock-full of veggies including spinach, kale, beets, bamboo shoots, carrots, and broccoli, and also included a heaping scoop each of quinoa and chicken. Then they topped it with this masala-like sauce, and while they usually add Sriracha, since I was eating clean I had to ask them to not add it to my salad.
This salad was heaping in protein, iron, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and was delicious at the same time! This was just one of many of their healthy greens bowl options that you can choose from, and depending on whether you want your bowl to be completely raw/clean, ingredients can be removed from their salads.
Thank you Sweetgreen, for providing me with clean eats right at my doorstep.